It was a sight to gladden the hearts of West Indies fans. Jason Holder, the young and callow leader; Denesh Ramdin, the Test skipper; and Darren Sammy, a predecessor of them both, now a senior statesman in the side. Three captains in a group hug, celebrating a West Indies victory, a record win over Pakistan, no less. You wouldn't have expected it seven hours earlier.

Just before 11am, the West Indies players had stood dutifully in line as their anthem, Rally Round the West Indies, rung out over Hagley Oval. Holder looked as if he was vaguely mouthing some of the words. Few other players did. "This Caribbean nation is rising fast, a sunbeam cutting through a clouded past". The lyrics just did not ring true.

If the past is a foreign country and they do things differently there, for West Indies the past is 10 countries doing things differently. That is to say cohesively, successfully, dominating the cricket world. In recent times, there have been rare peaks, such as the World T20 triumph in 2012, and frequent troughs. But the past few months have been right up there, or down there.

From the moment the West Indies players walked out of their tour of India in October over a pay dispute, observers feared it could have been the beginning of the end. Could cricket in the Caribbean recover from the humiliation? How could it could have come to such an extreme state of affairs between the players, their representatives, and the board?

The omissions of Dwayne Bravo, the captain on that tour of India, and Kieron Pollard from the World Cup squad in January fueled the flames. Chris Gayle slammed the board, suggesting it was a case of victimisation. The selectors argued the World Cup squad was chosen purely on merit. Neither men had been in peak form, but it felt a little like plausible deniability from the selectors.

Holder was put in charge despite being the squad's third-least experienced ODI player. West Indies then lost to Ireland in their World Cup opener. Rumours swirled on Twitter that Gayle had only just now received a disciplinary letter from the board for his selection comments. When they lined up for the anthems in Christchurch, they looked like a team on edge. Or on the edge.

Then Gayle fell for another low score. Then the WICB president, Dave Cameron, retweeted a comment from a West Indies supporter that read: "Gayle goes ..can't buy a run ..let's give him a retirement package ..can't fail repeatedly and still front up based on reputation". It was hardly an example of rallying around the West Indies players.

And then West Indies were given the gift of Pakistan.

Dwayne Smith had been dropped on 11. Marlon Samuels was dropped on 25. And on 27. Darren Bravo was dropped on 45. Lendl Simmons was dropped on 44. Runs were let through, batsmen let off, West Indian confidence let to slowly rise again. Against an imploding Pakistan, West Indies didn't have to do much, but they did enough.

Their batsmen set up a position that allowed Andre Russell to come in and finish the job. Russell walked to the crease with 2.5 overs remaining. He made 42 not out off 13 balls. It included a dot ball he felt should have been called a wide, and four leg byes. Russell's hair and beard is cut in Mr T style at the moment, and you had to pity the fool who got in the way of any of his strikes today.

He scored more in 13 balls than Pakistan's top five batsmen combined. Jerome Taylor destroyed the Pakistan top order. They were 1 for 4. The West Indians hustled between the wickets, Ramdin sprinting from end to end between overs like he thought he was Usain Bolt. West Indian fans similarly ran around the grass banks at Hagley Oval waving regional flags, national flags, patchworks of flags.

After the loss to Ireland, Tony Cozier wrote that West Indies' fielding had been "embarrassingly inferior" compared to that of Ireland. Here, nothing could have been worse than Pakistan's fielding. West Indies dropped a couple of sharp chances, but were generally clean. They ended up winning by 150 runs, their biggest win over Pakistan in an ODI.

Pakistan were inept, West Indies held it together. The two teams on the bottom of Pool B were separated on this day by a distance the width of Cook Strait. As the day wore on, West Indies started to remember how strong they can be when they work as a team. Pakistan did themselves no favours today, nor any of the other 14 sides in the World Cup.

By the end of the match, Dave Cameron had removed his retweet and tweeted an apology. "No offense intended. Full apologies extended. Rally round the West Indies". This was not a day for petty sniping in the West Indies camp, though no day should be for the president of the WICB. It was a day for hope.

Bigger challenges await West Indies in the next few weeks, games against South Africa and India, as well as Zimbabwe and UAE. But for now, it is group hug time for Holder and his men. A day that began with a clouded past - a very, very recently clouded past - ended with a sunbeam cutting through.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale